A news item in a CNN email series that I subscribe to announced on September 19, 2018, that Merriam-Webster has added 840 words to their dictionary. In a prepared statement, the publisher noted that, “The addition of new words to a dictionary is a step in the continuous process of recording our ever-expanding language. The dictionary’s job is to report that usage as it enters the general vocabulary.”
Translation: “Because Americans are too lazy to use real language, and too offended not to be included, we’ll make them feel better by putting their disgustingly stupid non-words in our book.”
Let’s begin by observing that, as the character of Prof. Henry Higgins (in the musical My Fair Lady) noted, “In America, they haven’t spoken [English] for years.” American is, in fact, a sub-dialect of English, and I have long held that what is spoken in this country now is a bastardized sub-dialect of American which I have dubbed Uneducated American. (I apologize to my readers from other nations; I realize that, by using that phrase, I’m being redundant.) The problem with this sub-sub-dialect is that modern scholars simply can’t get enough of the grotesquely-misused excuse that it is a “growing language,” always changing, always growing. It is said that Latin is a dead language because it stopped growing. To those “scholars” who are making so much out of this inexact analogy by peddling their wares and wit for high fees, as alleged educators and publishers of equally alleged learned treatises, allow me to observe that you have apparently been able to accept the Latin observation Pecunia non olet.
Part of my objections to these new “words” is not so much that they are not truly words as that they are slang usage that began as lazy language. The expression hangry — what is described as a “blended word” made by combining “angry” and “hungry” — has its uses, especially to those of us who suffer from blood sugar issues. For all these years, I have had to explain to friends that my blood sugar was particularly low, which makes me “hungry,” but that I might not have realized that it was the cause of my nervousness and irritation, which made me “angry.” Now, I can simply say, “I was hangry.” My oh my, however did I survive my 60 years without this oh-so-convenient “word” to describe my condition? It’s a brand new word! Isn’t that adorbs?
Yes, adorbs is on their new list. It is, naturally, an idiotic, pre-adolescent perversion of “adorable,” and it should in no way be considered a word. M-W’s own primary definition of “word” — what they themselves say that a word is — reads “a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning usually without being divisible into smaller units capable of independent use.” The only thing that adorbs “symbolizes and communicates” is that the speaker is of low intelligence, premature in age, and probably just too damned precious to be allowed to speak at all. Of course, that’s just my rando opinion. (A pointless foreshortening of “random,” rando is used as pejorative slang in the same way that the word “blank” was used to define people who lived largely or wholly outside of ordinary society in the television-based world of Max Headroom. Ah, those good old days of only… thirty years ago?)
To use a term invented by Calvin and Hobbes cartoonist Bill Watterson, “verbing” appears to be in full swing this season, with the inclusion of unnecessary baggage like “Instagramming.” Perhaps worse still are common, yet technology-based, expressions such as airplane mode and force quit. These are not words, are not even blends such as hangry and mocktail. No matter how commonplace they may be in what passes for communication these days, they are not proper entries in a dictionary; they are technological expressions best suited for instruction manuals, whether as booklets included with the hardware or online resources designed to explain specific terms, or in compilations of technical terms, such as engineering, law, or medical lexicons.
When something is created, changes sufficiently, or perhaps simply had not yet been addressed, a new word (or adaptation of a word, such as using mouse to describe the pointing device which originally had a long tail, thus seemed mouse-like) should be created. The terms Latino and Latina are, by their final vowels, words for males and females (respectively) of Latin American descent. It was probably a foreshortening of latinamericano –a, first used in American in the 1940s-50s. The two problems with these words were that they might not have included Spanish, Portuguese, or even Mexican persons (depending upon how one views Mexico as being or not being “Latin America” — a term most Americans think of as South or Central American), and that neither one could be used singly without pointing to one gender or another. With the madness surrounding gender identity in these modern times, the term Latinx (lah-TEE-nix) was created around 2007 to be gender-neutral. And they thought Latin was a dead language.
The thing I find most unforgivable is the discovery that TL;DR has been accepted as a “word” when it is (as even M-W admits) a shorthand for “Too Long; Didn’t Read.” This may be the most self-incriminating abbreviation ever created. Not only can someone not be bothered to read something that is of greater length than the attention span credited to a goldfish (case in point: Donald Trump insists that his daily briefing on all matters, foreign and domestic, comprise less than a single page), this same goldfish-brained alleged-human must report pride of his ignorance by using a five-character “word” to prove what an idiot he is.
I have reason to think that this country may no longer need the Darwin Awards to prove that it is regressing into sub-human thinking. We have Merriam-Webster, as well as the American Heritage Dictionary (just as complicit), to thank for keeping a chronicle of the sub-sub-dialect of English that is an integral part of the denigration of the American intellect. (As I apologize for the redundancy of “Uneducated American,” I apologize also for the associated oxymoron of “American intellect.”) This was, once, a proud nation; it’s now just some rando country that has become too adorbs for words… perhaps literally.